Jan 09, 2022 News
Local and overseas-based Guyanese partner to launch Uitvlugt outdoor Library
By Davina Bagot
“The more that you read, the more things you will know…”
Kaieteur News – This famous quote is what led to neighbourhood enthusiast Charlene Garraway teaming up with some United States based Guyanese to promote reading in the West Coast Demerara (WCD) community of Uitvlugt.
A five-year friendship between Garraway and Ms. Kay Ramdat of New York, gave birth to the venture which seeks to mould the minds of at least 300 children in the community.
Along with Ramdat, the initiative has been supported by Mr. Sohan Seavcharran from Florida and Pandit Khemraj Singh, along with persons in the business community on the WCD.
Ms. Ramdat, in an interview with Kaieteur News said that even though she has no children of her own, she has always had a passion for kids.
She explained that back in New York, she started a foundation with the help of her friends. The foundation, SoFloLove, was founded in 2000 by the group of humanitarians who have been regularly assisting elderly citizens overseas with care packages and food hampers.
In addition to this, Ramdat noted that the foundation would usually host a year-end party for the seniors, but were restricted due to the pandemic. In this regard, she said that the group’s efforts were channelled to their homeland Guyana, where they believe the children were in much more need.
“For two years now we have been focusing on Guyana. We have been reaching out to the government for a plot of land to construct a Church and an Orphanage,” she said.
In the meantime, the humanitarian pointed out that it is her love for children that pushed her towards supporting Garraway on the community project, which they hope to expand in the coming months.
Garraway, a Councillor on the Neighbourhood Democratic Council in Uitvlugt, told this newspaper, “When my children had just finished school, the neighbours and so on would approach us to borrow text books and we never had a problem. In fact, we would lend it to the children who would return them so that others could benefit as well.”
Situated just a few steps away from the public road where the Uitvlugt Estate is located, the founders believe that the little outdoor library will undoubtedly play a major role in the lives of the children in the village and others nearby.
Already, several local and overseas residents have supported the library, through the provision of finances to aid in construction materials, as well as the main ingredient, books. For this, the founders said they must thank all the supporters.
For now, the Councillor said that children between the ages of five to 15 years can access the books – fiction and non-fiction – to both read at the location and borrow to take home.
The Outdoor Library will be opened on Mondays, Thursday and Fridays from 15:00hrs to 18:00hrs.
In the near future, the team is looking to expand the Library to not only benefit children, but also adults. Another section will soon be added to house books for adult reading. “The goal is to have some form of leisure for the parents too who will be bringing their kids. So while their child or children might be learning to read, they too can indulge in a good book,” Garraway explained.
But even more importantly, the organisation is hoping to launch yet another project to help students. This time, Ms. Ramdat said, “we are hoping to soon build a computer lab for the children which will assist them in completing their assignments or even facilitating research for their studies.”
Given the vision of the group, they are seeking the support of locals to partner with them in achieving their objective of moldings the minds of children.
Ms. Ramdat said that while Ms. Garraway has been kind enough to volunteer her plot of land for the library, it is their intent to also help the children to read, which will require a few hours of time from persons willing to ‘give back’.
“We are looking for a few people who would be willing to give back by helping us to teach the little ones to read. It doesn’t have to be for very long. Just a few hours in the week,” she appealed.
Given that they are looking to embark on a reading club, the team is also hopeful that a generous soul would aid in the provision of occasional snacks for the children.
The team said they would also appreciate a few additional benches as well as building materials and labour to construct a shed, which will shelter the children from the harsh weather.
Persons who are interested in supporting the Uitvlugt Outdoor Library can contact Ms. Charlene Garraway on 592-660-9112 or Ms. Kay Ramdat on +1 (718) 551-8489.
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